Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Rise of Windmills in Europe

By Brandon Kamins

Years ago, windmills were an important part of the US agricultural industry. They took advantage of a blustery day to help farmers pump water and grind grain. In fact, that is where the word windmill came from - the simple fact that it utilized the wind to run a mill and grind grain. But these days there are far easier ways to accomplish these tasks and windmills have become little more than a quaint, often inoperable conversation piece on old farms.

However, the windmill business is alive and well in many parts of Europe, though they are no longer called windmills, but rather wind turbines; and they are no longer used to run farms, but rather to generate cheap, clean electricity.

Why have the Europeans gotten behind wind technology?

Only recently the European Union announced that they would embark on an ambitious plan to cut CO2 emissions by twenty percent by 2020. To accomplish this goal they have invested heavily in alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power. These alternative sources are far cleaner and do not produce any harmful byproducts like more mainstream energy sources, like nuclear.

While the American politicians and citizens continue to debate the merits of global climate change, in Europe they have pretty much come to a consensus that humans are harming the environment and are expediting climate change, specifically global warming. As a result, their leaders were able to introduce a number of new solutions that are aimed at stopping climate change in its tracks. To begin with, they offer substantial government subsidies to companies and individuals who are interested in investing in clean (or green) alternative forms of energy.

And windmills or wind turbines are leading the charge. In fact, according to recent estimates, the market will grow to over $15 billion a year by 2015. This makes Europe the world's largest producer and consumer of wind technology. In fact, the largest producers of wind power in Europe, Germany and Spain, have committed to adding nearly 2,000 megawatts of wind power a year for the next five years. In Eastern Europe alone the windmill industry is expecting double digit in annual growth over that same period.

Brandon Kamins is a short fiction writer and a freelance writer. He has penned thousands of articles on every imaginable topic and he somehow still enjoys it.

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